Joelâ€™s Breakthrough Record Loaded With Smash Hits: â€œMovinâ€™ Out (Anthonyâ€™s Song),â€ â€œJust the Way You Are,â€ â€œOnly the Good Die Young,â€ â€œSheâ€™s Always a Womanâ€
Billy Joel entered 1977 with a great track record but in need of a breakthrough. Pairing with producer Phil Ramone (Carly Simon, Simon & Garfunkel), who developed the requisite ingredients missing from Joelâ€™s formula, the singer-songwriter became a household name and chart-topping success courtesy of The Stranger. Ranked 67 on Rolling Stoneâ€™s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and certified ten-times platinum, Joelâ€™s artistic and commercial smash remains a pop-rock benchmark. Better still, it now sounds astonishing.
An integral part of Mobile Fidelityâ€™s Billy Joel catalog restoration series, The Stranger is mastered from the original master tapes and made available on transparent hybrid SACD. Far superior to previous reissues, this edition emphasizes the crucial touches and insightful techniques Ramone brought to a batch of material that ranks among Joelâ€™s most clever, catchy, and sagacious.
Whereas a handful of Joelâ€™s preceding efforts feature a near-flawless mix of melodic arrangements and poignant lyrics, the aspects he sought in order to graduate into a more serious artist arrive here via Ramoneâ€™s more muscular, fleshed-out, and rock-enabling production. The streamlined approach slightly strips back the sweeping developments heard on Piano Man and Turnstiles, and on this edition, lays bare the core of the material, allowing the vocalistâ€™s bittersweet yearning, rollicking 88 notes, and working-class conviction to emanate with full-bodied detail, vivid color, and grand-scale dynamics.
A Grammy winner for both Record and Song of the Year, â€œJust the Way You Areâ€ epitomizes Joelâ€™s balladic reach, his ability to transfer wistful sentiments and lovelorn emotions. He also flashes a mean streak. The animated â€œOnly the Good Die Youngâ€ bounces and hops to an updated classic-R&B rhythm and, underneath its beauty, â€œSheâ€™s Always A Womanâ€ hints at trouble underfoot. And then thereâ€™s the New York-centric, character-rich poetry of the vignettes.
Akin to many of his influences, Joel nails the grit, personality, specificity, descriptiveness, and behavior of protagonists that populate â€œMovinâ€™ Out (Anthonyâ€™s Song)â€ and â€œScenes From an Italian Restaurant,â€ each equally at home on The Stranger as well as on a Broadway play or on a golden-era Hollywood film soundtrack. No wonder that, just months after its original release, Joel was no longer a stranger to any of the music-loving public. He would never look back.
Billy Joel The Stranger Track Listing:
1. Movinâ€™ Out (Anthonyâ€™s Song)
2. The Stranger
3. Just the Way You Are
4. Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
6. Only the Good Die Young
7. Sheâ€™s Always a Woman
8. Get It Right the First Time
9. Everybody Has a Dream/The Stranger (Reprise)